85(R) - 2017
House Higher Education
Senate Higher Education
House Higher Education
Senate Higher Education
Vote No; Amend
Relating to sexual harassment, sexual assault, dating violence, and
stalking at public and private postsecondary educational
No significant fiscal implication to the State is anticipated.
bill would require public and private postsecondary educational institutions to
institute a policy regarding sexual harassment, sexual assault, dating
violence, and stalking. The policy would need to include definitions of
prohibited behavior, sanctions for violations, and protocol for reporting and
responding to reports of violations. In addition, it would have to emphasize
the importance of going to a hospital for treatment and the preservation of
evidence for victims of these crimes.
This bill would also require institutions to establish a sexual assault online
reporting system. The online system would allow individuals to anonymously
report an alleged sexual assault, regardless of where the alleged incident
occurred. In addition, a student who reports in good faith would be exempt from
disciplinary actions resulting from a minor violation of the institution's code
if it occurred at or near the time of the incident. An alleged victim would be required to receive prompt and equitable resolution of a report.
An alleged victim would be allowed to request the institution to not
investigate an allegation of one of these crimes, and the institution would consider
some factors to determine if an investigation is necessary. They would be
authorized to take any steps necessary to protect the health and safety of the
This bill would also create a certain disciplinary process for these violations
including a meaningful opportunity for the accused to admit or contest the allegations, and
ensuring that both parties have reasonable and complete access to all the
evidence related to the allegation, and allowing both parties to safely question
witness of the alleged violation. Additionally, peace officers employed by
postsecondary institutions would be required to complete a training for
This bill would require postsecondary educational institutions to submit additional
reports concerning the reports of these crimes. If it is determined that an institution
of higher education is not in substantial compliance with this law, they may be
subject to a reduction of state funding for the following academic year, they may
also be assessed an administrative penalty in an amount not to exceed the greater of $2
million or the amount of funding received by students enrolled at the institution from tuition equalization grants, or the students of the institution may be declared to be ineligible
for tuition equalization grants.
Vote Recommendation Notes
As we have seen in Texas and other states, universities have a very poor track record of upholding the due process rights of students, and often sanction them for mere allegations of these types of crimes or violations of university policy without any real evidence. Recently a student at University of Texas at Arlington who was a victim of a merit-less Title IX investigation committed suicide because of the weight of being unfairly disciplined after being falsely accused.
This bill has a number of liberty-infringing deficiencies which will perpetuate these problems:
online portal to anonymously report allegations does not specify how the
university will investigate those allegations.
its credit, this bill does offer some minimal due process and privacy
rights for the alleged victim and the alleged perpetrator, however it
still requires these serious alleged crimes and violations of institutional policy
to be handled in-house through an extra-judicial process.
bill does not guarantee a student the right to bring legal representation
to a disciplinary proceeding.
bill does not specify an evidentiary threshold required for a guilty
bill does not specify that the burden of proof remains on the accuser
rather than on the accused.
bill does not specify that any accusation that is a violation of criminal
law must be
referred to law enforcement.
bill does not stipulate that only noncriminal violations of university
policy may be adjudicated through the university.
bill allows an anonymous report which is a certain recipe for false
bill guarantees amnesty for a person who makes a report of specified
violations "in good faith" without defining what "in good
bill allows but
does not require an institution to investigate
whether a report was filed in good faith.
bill does not require disciplinary proceedings be held against a person
found to have filed a false report or a report not in good faith.
- This bill adds new state mandates on private institutions
is the proper role of law enforcement to investigate and prosecute crimes; if,
after a guilty verdict in a court of law, the university wants to sanction the
individual they should be free to do so, but they must be found guilty through
the court system. Universities should be allowed to adjudicate noncriminal
violations of institutional policy but only with adequate due process
We would support amendments to make
the following changes to HB 16:
the anonymous reporting provision and replace it with privacy protection
if the person making the report is the actual victim.
the term "in good faith" as it relates to qualifying for amnesty
when filing a report of the specified violations.
institutions to investigate whether a report was made in good faith.
the university to take disciplinary action if a report is determined to
have been made falsely or not in good faith.
that any report which constitutes an actual violation of criminal law be
referred to law enforcement for investigation and adjudication.
that institutional disciplinary proceedings may only be used for
noncriminal violations of institutional policy.
that in any disciplinary proceeding both the alleged victim and the
accused may have an attorney present to advise them.
the burden of proof from being vested on the accused.
that a student be expressly considered innocent until proven guilty.
a minimum "clear and convincing" standard of evidence to make a
the adoption of these amendments we remain opposed to HB 16.